Jennifer Gillia Cutshall
ARTIST-A-DAY-BLOG: Inside A Generous Kingdom V & the Delving Vision of artist Linda Wandt
"Showing up every day in the studio ... You don’t wait for inspiration to strike, you have to get in there and do the work."
How does your work interact with the theme of “A Generous Kingdom V: Art that Explores Story, Symbolism, and Beyond”.
Most of my work deals with narration of some kind, and I tend to use symbolism as a big part of that. I love using visual symbolism as language because it is so open to interpretation, allowing people will reach their own, most impactful conclusions that way, and hopefully even read the image differently at different points in their life. My inspiration comes from that space where the conscious mind brushes up against the subconscious, and I explore a lot of metaphysics through my figures and their stories, but what they ultimately offer the viewer is often related to perseverance. I try to create a space for the viewer that fits so well with “A Generous Kingdom”!
Does the idea of transformation influence your work and process?
Pretty much always, I think! When I was younger, most of my paintings were an exploration intended to understand myself better, and those pieces are heavily about transformation and perseverance. As I get older, that investigation turns more and more outward towards understanding relationships, other people and society. Transformation and connection are a big part of those investigations, especially in terms of seeking empowerment or growth. I see how something could be, not the way it is now, and I want to show the viewer this way of seeing.
What draws you to the medium you chose? And tell us a little about your process.
I painted with watercolors and acrylics for a long time before trying oils for the first time in college and after those first couple of mucky experiences, oil paint kind of blew my universe open. Oil is SO versatile! It kills me that so many people are intimidated by oil paint. I also love drawing, clay and wood carving, but nothing sets me free like oil paint does, it feels like home to me. I love it because it is far more forgiving than most people realize, and I like taking my time and letting things develop. Even after painting with oils for all these years, I am still learning how to use them, and it remains exciting to keep honing that craft. As for my process, I sometimes plan a photoshoot very carefully, I even create sculptural elements for a few of them, then I work in layers, building the paint up and working from a rough monochromatic (one color) underpainting to detailed upper layers, often taking about three weeks or more to complete one piece. Sometimes I get into glazing colors transparently over a finished underpainting, which is a labor of love, since it is very involved. I do a lot of figure drawing/painting sessions as well, to stay sharp with painting from life (although through the pandemic it’s been remote on screen) so I do a lot of straightforward figure studies. Who inspires you? And What do you do to get inspired?
I could name 50 contemporary artists who inspire me today, we don’t have the time! The newest painter I just learned about is Steven Walker in GA, he does mainly landscape, and his work ethic is definitely something to learn from. I’m really inspired right now by Zoey Frank as well, her work is so thick and lush and textured and it’s such a treat for the eyes. To get inspired, there’s so many different things to do. I walk or meditate or write for a bit. I look at other people’s art, and that’s always inspiring! Showing up every day in the studio is really about discipline. You don’t wait for inspiration to strike, you have to get in there and do the work.
What recently made you smile?
The book I am currently listening to while I paint, called “Braiding Sweetgrass”. Read it if you like plants, that’s what I will say about it. It’s a beautiful book about connection that I highly recommend. If you could tell your viewers one thing, what would you tell them?
To keep pushing forward and to imagine how things could be instead of how they are. Work towards that, and do not accept any less. I think now is a crucial point where it’s easy for some to fall back into complacency. Let's keep pushing forward towards something better.
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Ergo Sum Oil on Canvas 36" x 24" x 1.5" Arrives ready to hang